The Viking Corporation has been active in AFSA’s newly formed Michigan Chapter. From left to right: Chapter Membership Chair Sandy Richter, Viking Corporation; Chapter Vice President Tom Gustafson, Total Fire Protection; Chapter Secretary Greg Dittenber, Jimco Fire Protection, Inc.; Chapter Executive Director Frank L. Mortl; and Chapter Treasurer Mike Bosma, Viking Corporation.

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Members Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries

Happy Anniversary! The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is honored to recognize those celebrating milestone membership anniversaries with the association. These member companies have belonged to AFSA for 15 or more years of continuous membership. Recognition in Sprinkler Age will be done in five-year increments, starting at the 15-year mark, and is available to all membership types.

Associate member The Viking Corporation, Hastings, Michigan, is celebrating its 35th anniversary with AFSA. Sprinkler Age asked Viking Group’s Vice President of Marketing Jeff Norton to share some of Viking staff’s thoughts and memories about the fire sprinkler industry and the association.

Viking Shares Memories “Over the 35 years of our membership with AFSA, many Viking employees have benefitted greatly from the professional and personal relationships that they have built. We’re proud to be associated with an organization that shares our passion for fire protection, and we congratulate and thank them for their many years of dedication to training and the advancement of professionalism in our industry,” Norton says. “It would require too many pages to document all the benefits Viking, and our industry in general, have enjoyed through AFSA, so here’s a modest attempt at hitting a few highlights.”

Education and Training “Viking values AFSA’s focus on training and its dedication to quality of workmanship that benefits us all. We’ve seen significant growth in training programs and presentations over the years, and we know that effort has resulted in more effective fire protection and has made a difference in countless lives.”

Technical Resources “Many Viking employees follow the AFSA’s SprinklerForum. The passionate exchange among AFSA members on such a wide variety of topics has helped advance our common knowledge and understanding of important technical issues impacting the sprinkler industry.”

Networking “There is no better way for Viking to reach our markets, learn more about our customers, and to promote the advancement of our industry than to attend national and local AFSA events. We’ve made it a priority for our company to offer support at as many meetings as possible,” Norton states. “The AFSA Michigan Chapter’s inaugural meeting was held last July at Viking Headquarters in Hastings. This new chapter is creating a training platform and opportunity for peer-to-peer interaction that will stimulate personal growth and continuous learning for all industry professionals, including architects and engineers (A&Es), contractors, and Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs). Viking was proud to host this initial gathering, and we look forward to supporting this chapter’s great work.”

The Viking Corporation welcomed AFSA NextGen Initiative members for a tour of its Michigan facilities in the summer of 2017.

A New Generation of Leaders  “One of the most exciting new AFSA initiatives is the development of the Next Generation (NextGen) program. Recognizing the important role of future leaders in our industry, AFSA started the initiative in 2014 as a way for younger leaders in the fire protection industry to connect and learn from each other. Viking is very excited about this group and has been involved since its inception. We were pleased to host NextGen members for a tour of our Michigan facilities in the summer of 2017, and we feel we have a lot to learn from these talented individuals,” Norton comments.

Friendships Throughout the Years “Maybe the most important benefit of AFSA membership is the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with others focused on doing all they can to protect lives and property through fire protection. Many of our Viking colleagues remember their first AFSA convention and exhibition, and those initial meetings have created friendships that have lasted through the years. Here are just a few of the comments that illustrate Viking’s bond with AFSA.

“‘One of my favorite memories is from my first AFSA convention in Boca Raton, Florida. I specifically recall the assembly of all the manufacturers and suppliers in the exhibit hall for a group photo. I met a lot of great people that week, and many of those initial meetings evolved into strong business relationships and friendships that still exist today,’ says Chris Sharp, sales manager.”

“‘Viking has participated in AFSA since the early 1980s, and I’ve always highly valued the association’s dedication to improving the quality of workmanship in our industry,’ comments Mike Bosma, executive vice president, sales – international.”

“‘It’s been an honor to serve as the membership chair for the newly formed AFSA Michigan Chapter, and through this opportunity I’ve learned how important a local organization can be in adding value for our customers, our industry, and the people and property we protect,’ states Sandy Richter, territory sales manager.”

Norton concludes: “I personally appreciate the AFSA’s commitment to advancing our industry, including acceptance of fire sprinklers. AFSA has embraced the ‘Sprinkler Saves’ effort which seeks to promote any and all instances of successful sprinkler activation. Thank you, AFSA, for a great 35 years… we’re looking forward to even greater accomplishments in the next 35!”


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